Tag Archives: victory singers

Miriam The Prophetess

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“Miriam and Moses” by Paul Delaroche from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Woman in Sacred History published in 1873.

Her Name

Miriam enters the Bible without genealogy, an annunciation scene or a naming ceremony. She isn’t even named. She’s just the sister of Moses. Not until she was an old woman do we learn that Moses’ and Aaron’s sister was named Miriam. Most commentaries will tell you that her name means “bitter water” based on the rabbinical understanding that her name is derived from the Hebrew root mrr, to be bitter. Continue reading

Of Angels and the Servant Girl of En-rogel

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“‘Ascend a lofty mountain, O herald of joy to Zion; Raise your voice with power, O herald [m’vaseret] of joy to Jerusalem.'” Isaiah 40:9

Within the words of comfort in Isaiah 40, we find a number of voices calling out to Zion on God’s behalf with no success. “Rather than relying solely on Divine but disembodied voices of solace, God turns to a messenger of flesh and blood” (Nosan- Blank, p.217). Olyan believes that the messenger is an angel (p.21n). Regardless, in the Hebrew this herald of good tiding is feminine, m’vaseret. It is this lone woman who partners with God and is able to “carry the word of God to bring comfort to those in need” (Nosan-Blank, p.218). Most translations do not call attention to the gender of the messenger because she is without precedence. If she is an angel then she is the only female angel in the Bible. If she is a human messenger, then she is in rare company. Uncomfortable with a creature they cannot categorize, several traditional commentators try to explain away her gender using mental gymnastics such as “scribal error.” Whether the m’vaseret is human or angelic I want to explore the implications of her presence in the Bible. Continue reading